Annecy and Aix-les-Bains

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October 4th 2011
Published: October 4th 2011
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Hi All

We decided to stay at Beaune, the winery capital of the Burgundy region. Our hotel was a 15 minute walk from the centre of town - always the most interesting part of any town we have visited so far. Sean visited a medieval hospital that is currently being used as an old people’s home. I was shopping for clothes, and didn’t realise that was where he was - apparently they have some interesting surgical instruments on display from the 16th century. We stayed in Beaune for 3 days and decided to visit some Chateaux on the Route des Ducs de Bourgogne, not realising the ones we wanted to see involved a 360km round trip. Luckily we checked on the internet and found the good ones were closed on Monday and Tuesday (not mentioned in the pamphlets) so decided to drive to Auxerre and visit a chateau on the way back. Auxerre has an extremely impressive Cathedral (see photos) and the town itself, on the banks of a river, is quite nice. Then onto the Chateau de Bazoches, built in the 12th century and taken over in the 17th century by a bloke called Vauban, who was quite a talented engineer and warrior. His ancestors still own it and have preserved some excellent mementos.

With Sean being a beer connoisseur, and me liking wine one day and detesting it the next, we decided not to visit any ‘caves’ - wine is so cheap here in the supermarkets and the choice is huge - we can buy a bottle if and when we have the urge. (I know Martin will be horrified at this!)

After leaving Beaune, we stayed in a place called Aix-les-Bains on Lac de Bourget, France’s largest freshwater lake. We came via Annecy, which is a very pretty town. (Aix has a mixture of old and new - a bit like the Gold Coast - losts of apartments for retirees). Unfortunately, there is a constant pollution like haze over the whole valley, extending from Annecy through to Aix-Les-Bains. It spoilt the views totally, which could have rivalled New Zealand. We did stay in a nice hotel here, a one minute walk from the lake and lots of restaurants. On the last day we drove up to Mt Revard which overlooks the town, 1.5km up. This was a pleasant stop, but we couldn’t even see the lake due to the haze (see photos).

We decided to leave early and take the motorway (toll) to get to Uzès in time for the renowned markets. I have to say the toll motorway was bliss, cruising along at 130kmph. We have tended to avoid the tolls due to the cost and we might miss something interesting. However, we have noticed the toll roads and our route are usually parallel to each other, and we often get stuck behind a tractor for miles. So we now weight it up, and as there is so much to see, pick set places and get there as quickly as possible to fit a full day in.

We arrived at the precise minute our GPS said we would in Uzès, a town of around 12,000 in the Languedoc Rossillon area, almost on the border into Provence. This is our base for 2 weeks, to head in 3 different directions for days trips and the odd overnight one. It is nice to have a fridge and washing machine - we are staying in a villa 10 minutes walk from the centre of town. The Markets were huge, spilling out from the centre square into every street of the old town. They sell a huge amount of food produce, like every available type of olives, honey, bread as well as pottery. I loved the smells, lavender,rosemary, cheeses (some very smelly) and huge woks of paella being cooked. Like home, the price for some things does seem to be more than the supermarkets, but great quality. I will take some photos next week.

Next time I will chat about one of Sean’s must sees here in France - the Pont de Gard, which is 16km down the road.

Au revoir

PS I have also included some photos from our visit to the Louvre - I thought Ethan might be interested in the frog picture. These are from the Egyptian era and the smallest frog is no bigger than Lara’s thumb nail!

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